Alcoholism Facts: How Is Alcohol Processed In The Body?




Alcohol can be absorbed into the bloodstream directly via the mouth all the way through the stomach and small intestine’s tissue lining. Certain elements such as water, fruit juice, and some food items can help slow down the absorption of alcohol in the body. Carbonated drinks, on the other hand, are known to speed up the absorption of the substance in the body making the person experience the effects faster.

  • The moment alcohol gets into your bloodstream, the substance will be brought to your brain and the other organs in your body in a mere 90 seconds.
  • The effects of the substance vary based on factors including gender, body size, body fat percentage, the amount of alcohol taken, the condition of the individual taking the substance, and the amount of food in his stomach.
  • Only 10% of alcohol can be eliminated through urine, sweat, and breath.
  • The liver starts to work immediately in order to counter the lingering toxic effects of the substance in your body.
  • On an average, your liver can metabolize alcohol at a rate of 1/2 ounce or 14 grams per hour. One standard alcohol packs in 12 grams of ethanol so the average person will be able to metabolize at least one standard alcohol every hour.

When your consumption of alcohol has already exceeded your liver’s capacity to metabolize the substance, the alcohol concentration found in your blood will increase. Then the increased concentrations of blood alcohol may lead to impaired coordination and thought processes and even cause slowed autonomic functions like breathing. Take note that excessive concentration of blood alcohol can eventually cause coma and even death.

Alcohol is a depressant that can slow down your brain and body functions.

One is that alcohol can limit the actions of neurotransmitter glutamate which excites activities in your brain. The chemical messengers in your brain, known as the neurotransmitters, are the ones that relay information. Every neurotransmitter can bind to a receptor to initiate a response and there are several responses that can come as the result of the variations in the receptors. The response of neurons to the information it receives is dependent on the complex interactions of conflicting messages arriving simultaneously.

Another is that alcohol can increase the activity of inhibiting neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. The pleasurable effects, as well as the addictiveness of alcohol, are caused when the substance increases the release of the pleasured-related neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical often linked to other types of addictions.

The pleasure is also brought about by the activation of serotonin receptors. It can have an impact on the many functions of serotonin such as mood regulation, sleep, appetite and body temperature, among others. The stimulation of opioid peptides can also increase the pleasurable effects of drinking alcohol, as well as the initiation of neuroadaptation or the changes caused by the brain’s attempts to function well despite the presence of alcohol in the body.

The Blood Alcohol Concentration or the percentage of alcohol content in the blood is tested to know if someone has been intoxicated. In many states, a blood alcohol concentration of at least .10% is already deemed as legally drunk so that the body contains 1 milliliter of alcohol per 1,000 milliliters of blood. In several states, intoxication is legally defined as the presence of .08% of alcohol, which means that the body contains 8/10 milliliters of alcohol per 1000 milliliters of blood.

Many states also practice the zero-tolerance laws, implying that under the age of 21 are prohibited from taking in alcohol beverages.